Villa Park boss says captain has a future but not in the starting 11.
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Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has reassured captain Stiliyan Petrov he still has a role to play at the club but is not guaranteed a starting place.
Petrov has been a mainstay in the Aston Villa midfield since signing for then manager Martin O’Neill in 2006 from Celtic.
But with new signings Jean Makoun and Michael Bradley, while the return from injury of Nigel Reo-Coker and Fabian Delph, meant Petrov was dropped for the Blackpool game.
Houllier insists Petrov, 31, remains an influential figure at the club and revealed the experienced Bulgarian is ready to battle for a place in midfield.
“Petrov is in my plans, but if he says ‘I want to play every game’, I’ll say ‘No’,” Houllier said to the Birmingham Mail.
“He’s the captain so he must lead by example. I’m very pleased with his attitude.
“He’s been influential in me changing the philosophy that we have here. He’s still got a lot to give.
“You can play only 11 players at one time, but it is the squad and the unity of the squad that makes you win, not just 11 players.
“The players and the fans have to accept now that it is a squad – simple as that.
“When there’s no competition the teams go down. If you don’t accept competition you don’t do this job.”